MICKEY HAD TO GO

THERE'S no doubt that yesterday's resignation of South African cricket coach Mickey Arthur would have shocked many at Cricket South Africa as well as followers of the game throughout the country.

THERE'S no doubt that yesterday's resignation of South African cricket coach Mickey Arthur would have shocked many at Cricket South Africa as well as followers of the game throughout the country.

On the eve of the national team's departure for a tour of India, Arthur has cited the reason for his resignation as a breakdown in communication with captain Graeme Smith.

But after the shock wears off, is it really that unexpected? No.

Since taking over the team in May 2005, Arthur has always been a coach who has preferred to remain in the background rather than be in the spotlight.

As a player Arthur was solid if not spectacular, going on to represent both Griqualand West and Orange Free State. His coaching pedigree was much the same.

In certain sporting codes - and cricket falls in to this category - there is a belief that to coach at the highest level you must have played at the highest level.

Arthur never did that and it is probably something Smith reminded him of. The dynamics of the Smith-Arthur relationship - a headstrong, influential captain and a silent coach - are nothing new to local cricket.

Shortly after South Africa was readmitted to international sport in 1992 after two decades of isolation, Kepler Wessels led an inexperienced Proteas side to the World Cup in Australasia.

Wessels was an obvious - if not altogether popular - choice as captain. Turning his back on South African cricket to further his career in Australia, the talented left-handed opener went on to represent Australia in 23 Test matches. Returning to his homeland in 1990 he was the only player in the South African squad to have international experience.

Coached by Mike Proctor, it was Wessels who called the shots at the World Cup. He surrounded himself with players he believed could do the job. And who could blame him? Facing the might of the West Indies, Australia and England, Wessels wanted players he could count on.

There is no doubting the abilities of Proctor the cricket player, but as a coach his input was negligible.

The same scenario played itself out when a disciple of Wessels, Hansie Cronje, succeeded him as national captain.

At the helm as coach during Cronje's tenure as captain was the late Bob Woolmer. Although Woolmer had represented England at national level and was a shrewd tactician, Cronje made it quite clear he was in charge.

To players he was an intimidating figure. The feeling that he could do as he pleased led to his banishment after it was proved he was in cahoots with overseas betting syndicates.

When Smith was appointed captain at 21, his coach was Ray Jennings. It was always going to be a match made in hell.

Smith was intent on making his mark and Jennings is someone not to be messed with. One of them had to go, and it was Jennings.

Arthur's appointment came as a surprise.

Rumours that he was just a figurehead have abounded for years, and it was Smith who called the shots.

Yesterday's resignation simply confirms that.

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